If I haven’t written about spiders in a while, it’s simply because I haven’t seen any. With the arrival of spring, however, the monsters are on the move once more.
Now I don’t go out of my way to hunt spiders down; in fact, I go out of my way to not have to hunt them down. I even occasionally allow a young spider, who has moved into a vacancy on the balcony railing, to live. I adopt them as a sort of pet and watch them develop from cute little baby spiders that even I am not afraid of, into children spiders who look at the world with wide-eyed wonder (aww, they grow up so fast, don’t they?) and then into moody and insolent teenage spiders with their spider trousers hanging down their eight legs and their web a mess even though I have told them time and time again to clean it up, and finally into young adult spiders, eager to start a family. This is when I kill them.
For the most part, I have no problem with the spiders who keep me company during my nightly cigar on the balcony. They are everything I like a spider to be: somewhere I can keep an eye on them, quietly going about their own business and, most importantly, securely outside. The ones I have a problem with are the ones who bushwhack me while I think I am safe in my flat. This has not, I am happy to say, happened in a while.
Until last week.
We went into the bedroom to go to bed and when I turned on the light, there it was—one of the mutant spiders, the size of a badger, clinging to the wall. Naturally, I panicked. When my hyperventilation eased, I summoned up what courage I could find and decided to act, taking advantage of its spider Achilles Heel (they have eight, so it is a real disadvantage to them): the belief that if they remain still, no one will see them. How they came up with that notion is beyond me—if a komodo dragon was sneaking up on you in your living room, you’d still see it even if it was standing still—but I am glad they did; for the moment, at least, I was safe and the spider was where I could see it.
Thinking fast I went off in search of a cricket bat to bludgeon the creature to death with. Then my wife, who was calmly reading in bed (she suffers from a disturbing lack of spider-phobia) said, “Don’t squish it against the wall, it will make a mark.” I had to admit she had a point, the blood spatter would surely mean a forfeit of our security deposit should we ever decide to move, but how, then, was I to dispatch the beast?
“Brush it on the floor and then kill it,” my wife suggested.
She was, quite obviously, mad. If that spider hit the floor I knew I would be leaping about whacking at random and hitting everything except the spider, which would take refuge in the ironing pile (we have an abnormally large ironing pile, otherwise this would not be possible). Then, of course, I would have to rent a room at the Travel Lodge if I expected to get any sleep.
So I got a piece of plywood and the largest serving dish we had and performed a live capture, which left me with an angry, snarling spider strapped inside a serving bowl, wondering what to do next.
“Flush it down the toilet,” my wife suggested, flipping another page.
But I knew that wouldn’t work, as I would forever after be fearful of sitting on the toilet, in case the spider didn’t die and was, instead, waiting in the depths below for its chance to exact revenge. So I released it into the wild by heaving it over the balcony and letting it abseil to the ground below.
That, I felt certain, would be the end of it, but last night, it returned. My wife says it was a different spider, but I recognized the tattoo on its second to the left bicep. It was in the same place, just waiting.
Another live capture and release was performed, but now I am rethinking the toilet flushing remedy: it took the spider a week to find its way back into my flat the first time, so now that it knows the way, will it only take three days? Or two?
Frightening thoughts to dwell on, so I won’t. For now I am safe, and can relax and enjoy the grand weather, a nice cigar and a beverage on my balcony without having to worry about spiders.